Warning Sign Of Things To Come

One thing leads to another- I few weeks ago I missed out on tickets to see David Byrne on his upcoming. C’est la vie. Then I read an interview with him which referred to a film from 2016 I meant to watch but didn’t get around to. The name of the film is 20th Century Women, and that’s what it’s about. I enjoyed it a lot, the story a single mother in her 50s and two much younger women, co-raising her son, a teenager, in late 1970s California. The film is peppered with the music of Talking Heads from their ’77 debut and the 1978 follow up. On Thursday I pulled out Talking Heads 1978 album More Songs About Buildings And Food and played it through a couple of times, an album I first got into in 1987. And now today you’re getting a song from that record, Warning Sign.

By 1978 Talking Heads were clearly something a little bit different, benefiting from the rush of CBGB’s punk, but clearly not punk, a four-square guitar band who were showing they could make people dance. And while David Byrne may have been leader, dominant mouthpiece and main songwriter the rhythm section, Tina Weymouth and husband Chris Frantz, were developing something just as unique as Byrne’s strange way of looking at the world lyrically. Warning Sign opens with Frantz’s drums and some wonderful reverb splashed all over his snare, then followed by Weynouth’s circling bassline. A guitar joins in and the group set up a groove that goes on for almost a minute before Byrne joins in with his nervous, neurotic vocals, echo and a slur adding some menace to the song. Brian Eno’s subtle production pays off throughout the song. As someone says over at Youtube ‘I could live in that bassline forever’.

Warning Sign


Making Sense

Jonathan Demme died a couple of days ago. When I was seventeen I watched Stop Making Sense for the first time, the Talking Heads concert film he made. It is fair to say that it made quite an impression on me. I wore my VHS copy out. This performance of Life During Wartime is something else with so many memorable moments- the keyboards are out there, David Byrne is full on and the bit where the front line all jog on the spot at the front of the stage is visually stunning.

Not only that, but this as well. New Order’s best video for one of their many 80s peaks.

Facts Just Twist The Truth Around

Looks like Jerry missed the message about wearing red for the photo shoot.

Songs to raise the spirits and raise the roof after a week/year of shite and disappointment- Crosseyed And Painless (The Heat Goes On). In 1980 Talking Heads were the funkiest post-punk group on the planet, expanding to include new people in the studio and soon a killer line up of live musicians, with with Brian Eno continuing on production. David Byrne’s control freakery had almost driven Tina and Chris out but they stuck together to make their last truly great album, Remain In Light. This is the opener and sets the tone for what is to come.

Byrne has said that the album was ‘spiritual’ and ‘joyous and ecstatic and yet it’s serious’ The groove on this song is something else, rhythms for dancing and losing yourself. The vocal parts call and respond like uptight gospel. And the lyrics defy explanation. ‘Lost my shape, trying to act casual’ he starts out. The phrase ‘I’m still waiting’ comes and goes and then towards the end he starts to list what facts can and can’t do. And as we all know, we are now in a post-fact world.

‘Facts are simple and facts are straight
Facts are lazy and facts are late
Facts all come with points of view
Facts don’t do what I want them to
Facts just twist the truth around
Facts are living turned inside out
Facts are getting the best of them
Facts are nothing on the face of things
Facts don’t stain the furniture
Facts go out and slam the door
Facts are written all over your face
Facts continue to change their shape
I’m still waiting… ‘

Born Under Punches

An extra post for Saturday. David Byrne is sixty four today. Sixty four! This performance by the expanded version of Talking Heads in Rome in 1980 is astonishing. ‘Fuckin’ nuts…next level shit!’ as one Youtube commenter has it.

Eno Returning

Brrrr- it’s chilly out. How about some Brian Eno to start the week? In fact, how about an hour long mix of Brian Eno, originally put together by the Test Pressing website back in 2010, no longer available at their website as far as I can tell.

The Producers 2 Brian Eno

Many of the tracks selected here have that late 70s and early 80s sound rather than the ambient soundscapes he’s as well known for. Strange syncopated rhythms, treated guitars, African influences, multitracked vocals, funk bass, oblique strategies.

Brian Eno: Sky Saw
Brian Eno: No One Receiving
Brian Eno: Strong Flashes Of Light
Brian Eno: More Volts
Talking Heads: Double Groove (Demo)
Brian Eno: The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch
David Bowie/Brian Eno: Abdulmajid
Brian Eno & David Byrne: Into The Spirit Womb
Brian Eno: St Elmo’s Fire
Brian Eno & Harold Budd: The Plateaux Of Mirror
Eno Mobius Roedelius: Foreign Affairs
Brian Eno: In Dark Trees
Brian Eno: Mist/Rhythm
Brian Eno: By This River
Brian Eno: Just Another Day
Brian Eno: Bone Bomb
Brian Eno: The True Wheel

This Must Be The Place

If you click here there’s a nice re-edit of This Must Be The Place by Talking Heads, done by Patrice Baumel. It won’t embed but at the moment it’s a free download. It’s not that different from the original but it’s all stretched out bit, those keys and picked guitars playing off against each other for a few extra minutes at the start and finish. David Byrne’s usual lyrical obsessions with paranoia, anxiety, dislocation, wiredness and weirdness were replaced on this song for some actual warmth. Good for jigging about too.

Actually, there’s a potentially very good 80s re-edit mixtape in this- the New Order one I posted last week, that stunning re-edit of The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Nine Million Rainy Days, the looped reworking of Wah!’s The Story of the Blues and Siouxsie’s Peek-a-Boo for starters. Someone should stick them all together in one seamless mix.

Run Around Like A Crazy Dog, Make A Mistake In The Parking Lot

If Fear Of Music is Talking Heads best album (and I think it is) then the song Animals is the oddest song on it. Wonderful staccato guitars and a jerky yet funky rhythm with David Byrne’s freaky lyrics about animals. He lists the things he’s noticed about animals- they don’t help, they think, they’re pretty smart, they’re always bumping into things, they shit in the park, they see in the dark, they say they don’t need money, they’re living on nuts and berries, they’re laughing at us and they don’t even know what the joke is…

There’s a school of thought that says David Byrne was satirising moral panics and people’s late 70s paranoia but I like to think he was just a bit freaked out by our furry friends.


On tour in Dortmund in 1980 the expanded Talking Heads (Adrian Belew on guitar, Bernie Worrell on keys) give it the full treatment.